Your New Year’s resolutions are going to fail, and it’s because you’re only thinking of yourself.
At the end of every December, many of us come up with egocentric goals for the new year — losing weight, eating healthier and saving money are always among the most popular. They’re worthy resolutions, sure, but only 8% of us actually keep them, so you start the year off feeling like a failure.
Don’t get me wrong, bettering yourself should be something you keep in mind often, but don’t stamp it with “RESOLUTION” at the beginning of the year. Adding that extra pressure is a recipe for serious disappointment — even the American Psychological Association warns us not to view the start of a new year as a “catalyst of sweeping character changes.”
If you want successful New Year’s resolutions, stop being so damned selfish. At the risk of sounding preachy, focus instead on others — God knows we need to help make the world a better place if we want to see any improvement in 2015. Make resolutions to give back, and focus on the activities themselves, rather than the vague outcomes.
You may just find that helping others is a more attainable, worthier goal, and less of a strain than those more common, far-reaching resolutions.
Note: Percentages based on American data.
As the year comes to a close, and terrible events continue to plague our world, a lot of people have tweeted, “Is 2014 over yet?” or “2015 needs to come NOW.” But, much like making New Year’s resolutions, simply stating it isn’t going to do anything. If you want to see change in the new year, you need to bring the change.
Resolve to take action, while keeping in mind that to make it stick, you need to be realistic.
“Volunteer more” is a foolish resolution you’re sure to break, a promise as empty as “exercise more.”
“Volunteer more” is a foolish resolution you’re sure to break, a promise as empty as “exercise more.” Take that tired idea and transform it into something meaningful — actively join a cause at least once a month, whether it’s a new or recurring opportunity each time. That way, you’re only committing 12 times per year, giving you the freedom to work around your schedule and leaving more than enough room to exceed your goals.
Now, if you’re thinking, “There’s no way in hell I’m rolling out of bed on a Saturday morning to work in a community garden or mentor kids,” don’t limit yourself to that kind of service. Join peaceful protests, or find low-hassle service-learning opportunities to educate yourself on the root causes of social injustices.
We often warp the word “volunteer” to mean “grudgingly help others.” Just participate in your community, whatever that means to you.
And don’t wait until the next holiday season to donate to charity. This doesn’t mean you should just throw money at a random cause in January and call it a year. Find an organization tackling an issue you feel passionate about, and develop a relationship with its leaders. Track where your charitable dollars actually go throughout the year, and ensure you’re making a difference.
It’s worth noting that all these things will still ultimately stroke your ego. Studies show people are happier when they spend money on others, and you feel better after performing acts of kindness. Rest easy, fellow cynics — that volunteer opp and charitable donation aren’t quite as selfless as they seem.
So this year, forget the gym memberships (more than 60% of which go unused anyway), and focus on social good. You — and the world — will be a little better for it.